Nondestructive Evaluation of Historic Hakka Rammed Earth Structures
The in-service Hakka rammed earth buildings, in the Fujian Province of China, are unique in design and performance. Their UNESCO’s inscription as World Heritage sites recognizes their artistic, cultural, social and historic significance. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation of the United States, the authors have examined the engineering values of these buildings in terms of comfortable living at low energy consumption, sustainability and durability. The objective of this study was to better understand the thermo-mechanical and aging responses of Hakka earth buildings under thermal and earthquake loads through nondestructive field evaluation, including full-scale roof truss and floor testing, laboratory testing of field samples and finite element modeling. This paper presents our observations and findings from the field nondestructive evaluations with emphasis on the integrity of the rammed earth outer walls and inner wood structures, as well as the thermal comfort of living in these buildings, while a second paper presents the results from the material characterization of field samples and the structural responses of a representative building under earthquake induced loads through finite element analysis.
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